KENORA–Progressive Conservative candidate Greg Rickford was elected as MPP for Kenora-Rainy River riding over New Democrat Glen Archer, Liberal Karen Kejick, and Ember McKillop of the Green Party in Thursday’s provincial election.
It was a close race initially between Rickford and Archer as the first numbers poured in soon after polls closed at 8 p.m.
Just under an hour after the count began, the number of votes separating the two was just over 500.
But the gap quickly started to grow, with Rickford eventually winning by more than 2,100 votes.
The final tally, according to Elections Ontario’s unofficial results, was 9,693 votes for Rickford, followed by Archer (7,503), Kejick (2,1118), and McKillop (721).
With the win, Rickford ended 31 years of NDP representation locally, starting with Howard Hampton’s first election win in 1987 when the riding was just Rainy River before being joined with Kenora in 1999.
“Every race in Kenora for me has always been tough and tight,” Rickford noted on election night.
“I knew that there would be tense moments tonight, not just here but across the region, so I am just delighted to serve,” he added.
The PCs, led by Doug Ford, won 76 of the 124 seats in the legislature.
The NDP, led by Andrea Horwath, secured 40 seats to become the official opposition.
The Liberals were reduced to seven seats while the Green Party captured one in a historical first for the party in Ontario.
Meanwhile, both of Northern Ontario’s new ridings will send New Democrats to represent them at Queen’s Park.
In Kiitwetinoong (formerly part of the old Kenora-Rainy River riding), Sol Mamakwa led PC candidate Clifford Bull by a margin of almost 1,500 votes.
Guy Bourgouin of Mushkegowuk-James Bay took more than 50 percent of the vote, with five polls yet to be tallied, according to the Elections Ontario website.
Elections Ontario said voter turnout in the province was just under 58 percent–up from 51 percent in the 2014 election.